Thursday, April 5, 2012

Darren Dreger Would Be Squandering His Vezina Vote

Last night, TSN hockey insider Darren Dreger sent out a tweet that has rightfully raised eyebrows within the analytical hockey community. The message reads:

When questioned on the matter, Dreger responded with the following:

Speaking to his first remark about consistency, Dreger does have a bit of a point here; Fleury has consistently been a below average goaltender this season. For the 2011-2012 campaign, Fleury's even-strength save percentage is .914, markedly below the league-average number George E. Ays shows us here:

Though Broad Street Hockey's Eric T. points out that overall save percentage may be a better predictor of a goalie's future success in the short run, i.e. over one season, he also shows that ESSV% is the better predictor over large samples. Lucky for us, we have even-strength data going back to 2003-2004 pour la fleur. The results are as follows:

YearES SavesES Shots AgainstESSV%

Even if we throw the best indicator for Fleury's future success out the window, his overall save percentage this season is 0.913 which still falls below league average. Without digging up the precise numbers, this tweet from draglikepull sums up the point perfectly:

Unfortunately, Mr. Dreger seems to have fallen for the same illusion that so many in the mainstream media have before him. Marc-Andre Fleury has no business in a discussion for the Vezina trophy this season, last season, or likely in any season going forward. Good coaching, strong possession metrics and the ability to keep the play as far away from The Flower as possible are what have kept the Penguins afloat amidst their run of injuries.

In sum,

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  1. Not to mention, Pittsburgh have the lowest win threshold in the NHL. .880 goaltending makes the playoffs for the Penguins.

  2. There's a lot of ridiculous in any case for MAF, but you missed a big ridiculosity:

    "Fleury allows Pens to run and gun = wins."

    The Penguins allow the fourth-fewest shots on goal in the league. It's not like they're playing some crazy wide-open game that leaves the goaltender hung out to dry over and over.

    Who points to a team that's fourth in shots against per game and 17th in goals against per game and says "man, the goaltender sure is keeping them afloat"?


  4. I'm unfortunately exposed to a lot of this Fleury tire pumping from Penguins fans and the overwhelming consensus among them is that Fleury is an elite goalie whose stats aren't very good because of the system he plays in. Anybody who doesn't label him as a surefire top 5 goalie is a hater who relies on numbers to form opinions, or something. Hell, there's a lot of Pens fans who will tell you that he and his .908 save percentage in the 08-09 playoffs were just as important to our Cup run as Crosby and Malkin. And they truly believe it.

    I do think that Fleury is a bit better than the stats suggest, but not much. He's an average to above average goaltender who you would slot somewhere in the 10-15 range among starters. Again though, that's not enough. He's either an elite goaltender that carries the team or you don't know anything about hockey. Needless to say this rhetoric leaves very little open for discussion since objective measures are thrown to the wayside in favor of biases formed from FSN-Pittsburgh broadcasts. I've decided to just leave them to their circle jerk whenever the subject is brought up, but this is an interesting article that I might link to in the future. I might need to do it quickly, however, because if the Pens beat the Flyers in the first round I'll never get through to them.

  5. @Eric - right, that's what I was getting at with the last bit, though I probably could have hashed it out a bit further.

    @A5 - Jared has mentioned in the past that he seems to think Fleury has bad positioning and because of it makes more desperation saves than the standard goaltender might. I don't get to watch MAF much, but it seems like if true this would be something that would lead to strong confirmation bias. Also, lol @ Fleury's stats not being good because of the system for the reasons that Eric already pointed out. At the end of the day, it comes down to RANGZ. See: Osgood, Chris et al.

  6. Great article...
    I have made two posts lately that clearly show that:
    Fleury has been below average in the regular season

    I have even strength sve.% ave. at.920 since the lockout
    (I list all the goalies in this article if interested):

    I also showed that Fleury's playoff performance has also been below average (actually costing his team)He ranked 2 lowest in my list of top goalies.

    here is the post:

    Also, using the great website from The Contrarian Goaltender's :"Brodeur is a fraud" here:

    He uses a neat stat called win threshold.
    This stat aims to establish the sve% needed by a team to win games.
    Penguins rank #1. Save% needed ~.890.
    Sorry Darren, Fleury does the Penguins do not 'need' Fleury. His margin of error is the largest in the league.

    Still Dreger is not the only 'confused' media member. Elliot Friedmen of HNIC has repeatedly called for Fleury to be the 'key' to Penguins success?this year saying how tough it is to play behind the Penguins. When in actual fact as the team's win threshold shows, Fleury has one of the easiest tasks.
    He also is saying Fleury should be a shoe-in for team Canada 2014.
    (Nope Luongo, Price, are well ahead of him)

    These guys can't really be this dense. They seem to be intelligent guys? Could there be other motivations fro these blatantly inaccurate narratives? Are they planting these comments on behalf of agents? management? ...just questioning?

  7. Here's a fun visual. Fleury's save percentage over 10 game averages compared with Cam Ward's.

    Pretty comparable when you look at the peaks and valleys. Ward and Fleury also have similar career save percentages if I remember correctly and I would put neither at an elite tier, especially after this season.

  8. Save percentage, in my opinion, does not measure the success of a goalie completely. There should be a measure for quality of shots. The Pens while allowing very few shots, they are very high quality scoring chances. Other goalies pad their save percentage as their teams give up a lot of easy perimeter shots. This continuous jealously of anything Penguins is absolutely ridiculous. If not for Fleury, the Pens would not be as high in the standings. Just look at Brent Johnson's numbers this year (below .500) and Brad Thiessen's numbers (save pct of 85% against bottom part of league). Stats are not everything and can be quite misleading.

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  10. "The Pens while allowing very few shots, they are very high quality scoring chances. Other goalies pad their save percentage as their teams give up a lot of easy perimeter shots."

    Sorry, but this is just not true. We can prove it's not true, but I don't think you'll care if presented with a bunch of stats.

    Here's an experiment for you, though: Try to remember all the shots on goal from the last Penguins game, both for and against. There's no way you'll be able to do it unless you have some sort of Rainman recall ability - humans simply aren't programmed to remember and process that much essentially useless data.

    So there's really no way that you can claim that other teams face a lot of perimeter shots and that the Penguins face tough shots, because there's simply no way you can remember that many shots on goal. Truth is, Fleury is an average to above-average goalie, but everyone who has a successful team who aren't lol flyer fans want to pretend that their goalie is great.

  11. Looks like somebody needs to visit

  12. The Penguins have a remarkable ability to prevent their opponents from getting off any shots except slapshots from the slot. Duh.

    The really remarkable thing isn't that Fleury managed a .913 save percentage behind the pathetic defense of Orpik, Letang, Michalek, Martin, Niskanen, and Engelland; it's that before this year Brent Freaking Johnson had an even higher save percentage than Fleury did.

  13. If the stats are so compelling, then present them. I do actually watch the Penguins games and see the incredible saves that Fleury makes on the limited shots he sees. Either you're a Fleury hater or lover and obviously, everyone here is a hater. Keep hating while the Pens win another Cup!

  14. So in addition to having a par-at-best save percentage, you're telling me Fleury needs to make incredible saves just to maintain such mediocrity?

  15. Consistency? Marc-Andre Fleury's Quality Start percentage is 52.0%.

    That's about the same as Antti Niemi and Craig Anderson, two goalies not in the Vezina discussion. In fact, it's 29th among goalies with at least 20 starts.

    To say that Fleury played consistently is therefore false.

  16. You know what the bottm lines is? They consitently make the post season with him in net. They got beat by a very good Detroit team one year and beat that same team the next. Both times with MAF in goal throughout the post season. Not many Pens fans give a rats arse about the Vezina, really just the goobs. It's waaaaaaaaaay down the list from the Cup.